Opening Statement



Saturday, 25 May 2013

Toronto Catholic School GSA Vote: Trustee Statements

My updated May All Affiliate Teacher News Link Blog # 4 continues beneath this one.

Here are brief summaries from my notes of each TCDSB trustees statement, as I understood them, prior to the 7 to 4 vote not to ban the GSA clubs at Thursday nights TCDSB Board of Trustees meeting. They are presented in the order by which the trustees spoke.


Trustee Tanuan: Lots on his desk with the motion!

Trustee Tanuan [Mover]: Respecting Differences will help every student who is being bullied. The OLP rushed Bill 13 through knowing it violates the Constitution under the BNA act. The BNA act protects Catholic denominational rights. Nether the MOE nor the board has anything in place for the GSA's. The TCDSB can be a leader in implementing Respecting Differences instead of the GSA's. Let the Constitutional decide whether we have the right if we are challenged.

Trustee Del Grande [Seconder]: Ditto. GSA's are not lawful. Let's implement Respecting Differences instead. Notes there isn't any clergy here, but I'm not sure why. [?]. I asked around. Nobody seemed to think they come to the trustee meetings. Maybe that was his point? They're not Catholic enough?


Trustee Del Grande seconder: A question of BNA rights?

Student Trustee Walker: Notes there are students outside crying because of all the hateful things being said by both sides. 90% of our students are concerned about their peers feeling safe at school. Bullying can't be generalized. He has sat on a GSA unlike most everybody else here. They are a way to deal with the specific bullying against LBGTQ. They suffer from a particularly bad stigma. The GSA's are not about homosexual acts. Chastity is taught. They are about everybody feeling safe. He's against the GSA ban.

Trustee Piccininni: We are on the wrong side of history with the GSA ban. We can't throw a 2000 year old Bible at the problem as the solution. This is not 1915. We are not sitting around drinking lemonade anymore. He never would've thought we'd end smoking in public but we did. He remembers people going to Yonge St. to throw eggs at the gays on Halloween night. He thought it was funny then. He doesn't anymore. He is proud of the student presenters who came here tonight. The LBGTQ have rights. He intends to protect them. He will not support the ban.


Judas: The Biblical Kiss

Note: Puccininni was often almost drowned out by shouts of "Judas". One heckler would not stop. Chair Andrachuk silenced him down to a mutter by saying, "Only God will stand in judgement sir, not you."


Trustee Andrachuk: Only God will stand in judgement sir, not you!

Trustee Rizzo: She was proud of the students who came tonight to present. She doesn't respond well to threats. She will protect the students. There are many different types of Catholics today. There is room in the Catholic church for everybody. We are diverse but we are one community. It is the holy spirit which guides our students day to day living reality. She wants whats best for the students. She will not support the ban.

Trustee Davis: These students are todays young Catholics. We should be proud of them whether we agree with them or not. Our faith is at the core of the discussion. The discussion is not externally driven. Nobody has to join the the GSA clubs. The name itself does not oppose our faith. Let's support our students so everybody feels safe at school. She will not support the motion.


How can we best serve our young people today?

Trustee Crawford: She appreciated tonights discussion. She learnt a lot. It distresses her to see our community so divided. Either way the vote goes tonight, we lose. She is concerned about external factors. The board is providing it's own resources on line. It wants to encourage critical thinking. We teach and model the faith. Now is not the time for a constitutional challenge. The motion asks us to break the law. Chaos will result. She will not support the motion.

Trustee Kennedy: As a nurse she knows bullying is wrong. Still, GSA's are not acceptable to our Catholic values. The Ontario Bishops approved Respecting Differences so we should use it to protect our faith and morals. If students don't like that then they don't have to come to a Catholic school. We have the constitutional right and authority to adjust the GSA's through a Catholic lens as our parents have requested tonight. We have the right, let's use it. She will support the ban.

Trustee Jacovcic: He supports equity initiatives that will help the most vulnerable. Do GSA's threaten our Catholicity? No. He wonders how Respecting Differences has been utilized so far in our TCDSB schools? Human rights are more important than denominational rights here. He is concerned about the welfare of our students. He will not support the motion.

Trustee Buttoni: Inclusiveness means promoting not labelling students. We should not differentiate differences. Respecting Difference clubs are open to everybody. No one is excluded. The times have changed but not the universal law of God. She will support the ban.


How can the school board implement a good equity program to help the LGTBQ?

Trustee Poplawski: In her ward, Cardinal Carter CSS has established a successful Dialogue club. Will the other new clubs now be banned too? The motion refers to GSA's or "similar" clubs. Are only GSA's being singled out? She's considering a friendly amendment to strike the word "similar" from the motion to allow the other clubs to continue. She asks TCDSB Director Bruce Rodrigues if the amendment would help with the implementation of the school board program.

Note: Trustee Tanuan says these other clubs don't need to be dismantled. He would agree to the amendment.

Note: Director Rodrigues responds that Respecting Differences has not been implemented. There is a review coming but he has not received it yet. The amended motion would not help as an implementation guide.

Note: Trustee Poplawski withdraws her friendly amendment. She will not support the ban.

Trustee Tanuan  [the mover] is offered the last word. He says Bill 13 violates our Catholic values and rights. The MOE is trying to micromanage our schools.  Respecting Differences is our Catholic alternative to the GSA's. We are protected by our constitutional Rights in the BNA. He encourages everyone to support  his motion.


Hellbound: Catholic schools + the GSA's? The trustees thought not.

The vote is called at 10:55pm. The motion fails by a vote of 7 to 4.

Read my complete TCDSB GSA vote report below:

Part 1: Toronto Catholic School GSA Ban Primer @ Pt 1 Primer
Part 2: Vote Results @ Pt 2 Ban Defeated
Part 3: Deputations @ Pt 3 Pro + Cons

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